Table of Contents
- Best Circular Saw Guide Rails Reviews 2019
- Kreg KMA2700 Circular Saw Track – Best Seller
- Bora WTX Clamp Edge and Straight Cut Guide for Circular Saws | 50 Inch Cutting Length – Top Pick
- Kreg Rip-Cut Circular Saw Guide – Best Value
- Makita 194368-5 55-Inch Guide Rail – Runner Up
- Bora 100″ WTX Clamp Edge, Saw Guide Straight Edge (50″ Clamp Edge + 50″ Extension) 543100 – Also Consider
- Best Circular Saw Guide Rails Buying Guide 2019
Best Circular Saw Guide Rails Reviews 2019
Handheld circular saws are some of the most versatile and useful tools in any workshop or on any job site. However, the very nature of their design means that you either need a high degree of skill and experience or deal with less than perfect cuts. That is why we have put together a list of the 5 best circular saw guide rail reviews of 2019. We also offer a helpful buyer’s guide and handy FAQ, so you can make an informed decision. We think that a Kreg and Bora are the best options, but there are many to choose from. Keep reading to find out which we chose.
Kreg KMA2700 Circular Saw Track – Best Seller
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Kreg is not necessarily the oldest company on our list, having been founded a little over 30 years ago in 1986, but they are one of the premier manufacturers of measurement tools. Kreg is an interesting company in that, while it had a distinct focus on professional construction fields, it did not initially limit itself too much with those fields. To wit, the Kreg brand has stood out as one of the top-tier manufacturers of a wide range of construction accessories and auxiliary tools. This means that they do not actually produce hand or power tools but focus on the secondary tools used in conjunction with them. That said, Kreg further bucks the trend by originating as a manufacturer that serves both woodworking and metalworking professions in equal measure and has held that dual focus since its inception.
Easy to Use
One thing that might not seem so obvious at first from just a quick glance is the fact that circular saw guide rails can come in a number of different functional configurations. What appears to be a relatively straightforward strip of metal turns out to be an entire mechanism that can work on a couple of different principles. With the Kreg KMA2700 circular saw guide rail, the primary mechanism that keeps it positioned properly is simply the action of using it. Specifically, this Kreg circular saw guide rail employs an anti-slip strip that runs along the bottom of the track. Rather than using any kind of locking mechanism or clamp, this strip relies on the friction generated by running the circular saw alongside the track to keep it positioned. This convenience is further enhanced by the inclusion of a universal saw plate which will fit most circular saws in production today. This convenient engineering is taken to another level with the inclusion of an anti-chip design that allows you to cut without the worry of tearing into the workpiece. Finally, the Kreg KMA2700 circular saw guide rail was also made with the intention of versatility as it is able to make the widest range of cuts on our list including rip cuts, crosscuts, miter cuts, and even bevel cuts.
While the Kerg circular saw guide rail has a lot going for it in terms of additional features and convenience, it is not the perfect product. That said, there is no product in this category that does everything one would prefer, but the Kreg has a particularly pernicious issue. Specifically, the KMA2700 uses a mixture of different materials in its construction, some of which are better than others. In terms of the rail strip, you do not have to worry as it is made of durable aluminum which provides a number of additional protections as well. The same, however, cannot be said of the plate and guide which are both made of plastic and are known for flexing a bit. This can be a problem for those heavy-handed users as the flexing plastic has been known to produce some curved cuts. On top of that, the Kreg KMA2700 circular saw guide rail is also one of the shorter products on our list, though it is still reasonable at 48” long.
- Has anti-slip guide strips
- Has a universal saw plate
- Compatible with other Kreg products
- The track is made of aluminum
- Has an anti-chip design
- Can make a wide variety of different cuts
- A shorter circular saw guide rail
- The plastic components will wiggle
Bora WTX Clamp Edge and Straight Cut Guide for Circular Saws | 50 Inch Cutting Length – Top Pick
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Bora Tool is another company that has a bit of an interesting development, but unlike some of the other companies on our list, this company was not necessarily developed with the same outlook that it has acquired today. In fact, the Bora Tools story is one of slow gradual growth spearheaded by numerous awards and innovations. Through over a decade of hard work, the Bora Portamate brand has grown from a smaller, niche company into a large conglomerate that has half a dozen brands under its belt. That said, Bora Tools is still known primarily for manufacturing measurement tools and other ancillary tools rather than the power or hand tools people generally associate with well-known and respected brands. Though it is not perfect by any measure, the Bora WTX circular saw guide rail is our top pick and is even a Pro Tool Reviews Innovation award-winning product.
It may seem a bit odd considering where it appears on our list, but the Bora WTX circular saw guide rail is actually the least expensive product that we reviewed. At first blush, it may seem as though this product would be better suited for our best value position, but as you will soon see, the exceptionally low cost does come with a downside. That said, there is no getting around the fact that this circular saw guide rail offers nearly the same level of quality as many other competitors which are priced almost twice the cost of this model. For one, the WTX circular saw guide rail makes it a point to provide a solid track that made of heavy-duty aluminum. This will not only ensure that your cuts remain straight without flexing but that the track itself is also protected from a number of common issues as well. Another major benefit that the near-exclusive use of aluminum has when making a circular saw guide rail is that the Bora WTX is also the lightest product we reviewed too.
As mentioned prior, the Bora WTX circular saw guide rail won an award in 2015 for its innovation in design. This primarily relates to the locking and stabilizing mechanism of this Bora circular saw guide rail which is incredibly sturdy. This starts with the WTX lock that uses a cantilever mechanism to make sure that you can quickly and easily engage or disengage the locking mechanism. However, the real improvement of the WTX circular saw guide rail over its competitors comes in the form of the backside clamp. Combined, the level lock and the backside clamp allow the Bora WTX circular saw guide rail to provide one the strongest, most stable tracks that we came across. Unfortunately, this circular saw guide rail is not for that faint of heart and may even be considered a bit too good at its job. This has little to with the WTX level lock, however, and everything to do with the backside clamp. Essentially, the backside clamp of this Bora circular saw guide rail is noted for being extremely difficult to lock into place. Even worse, once you have locked the backside clamp into place, you will often need to use a rubber mallet to dislodge it for future repositioning.
- The least expensive circular saw guide rail
- Has a WTX locking clamp
- Has an adjustable clamp edge
- Compatible with numerous accessories
- Made of heavy-duty aluminum
- Is the lightest circular saw guide rail reviewed
- Difficult to lock in place
- Difficult to disengage the end clamp
Kreg Rip-Cut Circular Saw Guide – Best Value
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Kreg makes our list once again, but this time the company decided to go in a completely different direction than both their competitors and their own standard lineups. Quite simply put, the Kreg KMA2685 circular saw rail guide is in a class on its own in the relative market. This is definitely a precarious position to be in as it means that this Kreg circular saw guide rail will inherently be suitable for a smaller, niche target demographic. However, when you consider its unique functions combined with some of its manufacturer-backed options, this could possibly be the most functionally versatile circular saw guide rail on our list. That said, this expansion of functionality will come at its own cost and may even call into question its particular spot on our list.
A quick glance is all you need to see that this Kreg circular saw guide rail functions on a completely different operating principle than the other products on our list. For one, all of the other circular saw guide rails that we reviewed rely on either an anti-slip strip or a clamping mechanism to ensure that they maintain a stable rail. The Kreg KMA2685 eschews both of these approaches altogether and instead utilizes a moving edge guide to perform its task. This has some unique benefits compared to alternative methods, but it also comes with distinct limitations as well. For instance, since it uses the edge of the workpiece to assist in guiding the cut, the KMA2685 circular saw guide rail can only make a cut as straight and even as the edge of the workpiece. If the workpiece’s edge is not finished or, at least, straight, then the cut is liable to mirror that deviation. On the other hand, this also allows the Kreg KMA2685 circular saw guide rail to transition from workpiece to workpiece without nearly as much effort. Once you have found the proper position for your cut, you can move to another workpiece without even having to make a second measurement.
While the mechanism used by the Kreg KMA2685 circular saw guide rail has some advantages, it is also limited in terms of its capacity. Specifically, this circular saw guide rail only allows for cuts that are 24” wide from the edge of the workpiece since it relies on an edge guide. This also means that you will actually have to use both hands to use this Kreg circular saw guide rail, necessitating the use of clamps on the workpiece itself to maintain a truly safe and stable cut. On top of that, this Kreg circular saw guide rail falls into the same materials conundrum as the other product we saw. Specifically, the track of the KMA2685 circular saw guide rail is made of durable, extruded aluminum. However, the universal saw plate and other components are made of plastic which introduces a flex into its use which can cause your cut to deviate from a perfectly straight line. That said, the Kreg KMA2685 circular saw guide rail is also the only product that we reviewed whose track actually comes with a measuring ruler, something that seems like a no-brainer for this type of product in retrospect.
- Is a less expensive circular saw guide rail
- The track includes a ruler measure
- Has an ambidextrous design
- Has a universal saw plate
- The track is made of aluminum
- Is a lighter circular saw guide rail
- The shortest circular saw guide rail reviewed
- The plastic components will wiggle
Makita 194368-5 55-Inch Guide Rail – Runner Up
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Makita has long been considered one of the giants in the professional-grade power tool manufacturing market. With a history that stretches back over a century, it also happens to be the most storied and experienced company reviewed as well. That said, Makita is far more well-known for their production of high-end electric power tools than they are their accessory tools– and arguably for good reason too. This is not to suggest that Makita makes a poor circular saw guard rail, but as we will see, their position so far down on our list is entirely warranted due to a specific design choice that severely limits the versatility of its application.
A Narrow Path
Do not let the subtitle mislead you, we are not suggesting that there is anything wrong with the Makita circular saw guard rail’s track. On the contrary, this could arguably be seen as one of the better guard rail tracks on our list were it not for a sneaky engineering choice. To point, the Makita 194368-5 circular saw guard rail was designed to be used with Makita-brand products to exclusion. Specifically, this circular saw guard rail is only compatible with the Makita line of plunge circular saws, though it does at least extend to both of the SP6000 models. That said, this does mean that if you are not using one of these two circular saws without an additional adapter, then you will likely not get much use out of the 194368-5 circular saw guard rail. In fact, this design actually even extends all the way to other Makita products such that many of their other circular saws are not compatible.
While the strict product compatibility of the Makita 194368-5 circular saw guard rail might be a bit onerous, if you do happen to own the requisite circular saw, then you will find one of the best-designed guard rails on the market. For instance, this is the only circular saw guard rail that we reviewed which actually does not require a saw plate for the best function. Instead, this 194368-5 circular saw guide rail was designed so that the Makita plunge circular saw is able to connect to it directly. Granted, you will still need an appropriate adapter to make use of its function with other Makita circular saws or their adapters, but it is perfectly formed for their plunge circular saw. On top of that, the Makita circular saw guard rail is another product that does not require clamps or locks, relying instead on a friction-activated strip that keeps the track firmly in place while making your cut. The track itself also comes with an anti-tearing guard as part of the design, which is especially useful for the Makita plunge circular saw as it is known for being a rather powerful saw in the first place.
- Is a longer circular saw guide rail
- Does not require a separate saw plate
- Is made of aluminum
- Has an anti-tear guard
- Is easy to use
- Does not require additional clamps
- Is the heaviest circular saw guide rail reviewed
- Designed to be used with specific tools
Bora 100″ WTX Clamp Edge, Saw Guide Straight Edge (50″ Clamp Edge + 50″ Extension) 543100 – Also Consider
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The last product to make our list is fairly similar to another and is better understood as an improvement on it. In fact, the Bora 100” WTX is quite literally the same product as our top pick with the added inclusion of the, otherwise, optional 50” extension track. In many respects, this is a near-identical product to our top pick, but the extension track does change it enough that you should consider it a bit differently, if from a bird’s eye view. To be clear, the primary reason that this circular saw guard rail appears so far down on our list has little to do with the actual product itself. Instead, the 543100 circular saw guard rail is a product that likely has a much smaller target demographic for which it will be more useful than many of the options on our list.
When judging this model of the WTX circular saw guard rail, you can at least take some solace that it provides the same benefits as the base model of the Bora WTX circular saw guard rail. Unfortunately, this also means that this product will come with the same flaws as its progenitor, not to mention one or two which are unique to it. For instance, this Bora circular saw guard rail uses the award-winning WTX locking mechanism which is easy to engage and disengage for quick change functions. On top of that, the Bora WTX 543100 circular saw guard rail also employs the same backside clamp which allows it to maintain such a solid grip on the workpiece. However, much like the other Bora WTX circular saw guard rail, this backside clamp is likely a bit too zealous in this endeavor as it can be devilishly hard to loosen once positioned in place, potentially requiring the use of a rubber mallet to release.
More is Better
Regardless of the difficulty making adjustments to the backside clamp, the Bora 543100 circular saw guard rail does still provide a more substantial product than any of its competitors. In fact, this circular saw guard rail is almost twice as long as the next closest competitor and is more than three times as long as the shortest model we reviewed. It bears noting that this 100” length is over 9’ long which is likely to be unnecessary for the overwhelming majority of users. That said, even being twice as long as most of its competitors, the WTX 543100 circular saw guard rail is also less expensive than most of their competition as well with the only product cheaper than itself being the base-model Bora WTX. One note of concern, however, should be paid to the hardware included with this circular saw guard rail. It is fairly likely that you will end up stripping the included screws, so you will likely want to purchase some better-made hardware ahead of time.
- The longest circular saw guide rails reviewed
- Is a less expensive circular saw guide rail
- Made of heavy-duty extruded aluminum
- Has a WTX locking clamp
- Has an adjustable clamp edge
- Compatible with numerous accessories
- Includes subpar hardware
- Difficult to adjust
Best Circular Saw Guide Rails Buying Guide 2019
This is likely one of the more important factors to consider for a number of different reasons related to both value and performance. That said, most makers of circular saw guard rails follow some basic industry standards making the comparison a bit moot on the surface. However, it is important to note that, due to differences in design, some of the additional components of a circular saw guard rail may differ from product to product, and this is where your analysis should focus.
This is generally what people will think their circular saw guard rail is made of, and for pretty much all products, this is partly true. While some errant brands or older models may use steel as the base substance, the overwhelming majority of modern circular saw guard rails use aluminum as the base material for their track. This serves a couple of purposes, but the main reason has to do with the fact that aluminum is able to provide strong structural integrity without adding too much weight. On top of that, aluminum is also naturally resistant to water and other corrosive chemicals while still being smooth enough to allow an easy slide mechanism.
Thankfully, this material is not used for the majority of circular saw guard rails and will never be used for the track. That said, there is no getting around the fact that many companies will use the stronger aluminum for the track and then use plastic for the saw plate, the guide, or both. While this is not necessarily the worst choice, since it helps keep the weight and cost of the product down, it is also not the best choice either. Plastic is inherently weaker than aluminum or other metals, and it is known to flex under even light strain, potentially throwing off the square in your cut.
Considering the relative simplicity of a circular saw guard rail, you might not expect there to be too much divergence in the engineering of different products. That said, this is arguably one of the more diverse aspects of the circular saw guard rail market, though it does not suffer from the plethora of options that other products can. Still, it is important to understand how these fastening systems work, especially depending on what materials you expect to cut.
Lock and Clamp
This is the original style of fastening used for circular saw guard rails and is still fairly popular today. This method of maintaining a steady guide involves a two-part mechanism of some kind of lock combined with some kind of clamp. One of the main benefits of this fastening method is that you can move the workpiece around and not have to worry about the circular saw guard rail becoming dislodged. That said, many of the top-performing products that utilize this fastening method can go a little bit overboard. As our list has shown, the clamp can be set so that it does not move without the use of extreme amounts of force, so much so that some users fear they will have to break the product to dislodge it.
This method of circular saw guard rail fastening is becoming more and more popular, and it is not hard to see why. In terms of ease and speed, there is no question that the anti-slip fastening outperforms the standard lock and clamp method. This may seem a bit odd at first, but the anti-slip strips on the underside of the circular saw guard rail are not sticky. Instead, this type of fastening relies on the friction generated by the weight of the circular saw combined with your own body weight as you make the cut to hold the guard rail in place. While this method of fastening can definitely allow for wiggle if you are not careful while lifting the saw or releasing your body weight, it is still surprisingly consistent and effective.
Why Use a Circular Saw Guard Rail?
All power saws serve to increase the speed with which you can make a cut, but they also have the unfortunate side-effect of introducing imprecision into the cut. While a hand saw may take significantly more time and effort to use, it also allows for a greater deal of opportunity to course-correct should a single pass go off course. In order to alleviate this issue, circular saw guard rails allow you to enjoy the relative ease and speed of a power saw without having to worry about the cut going off of your line. That said, the circular saw guard rail does not come without its own functional limitations.
For instance, a table saw or other stationary power saws will often include its own fence to help make sure that your cuts remain straight. Even for a plunge or chop saw, there is generally something to brace the workpiece against to maintain a straight cut. However, when it comes to handheld power saws, you generally need to rely on your own experience and steady hand– unless you have a circular saw guard rail. To be fair, this product is arguably even more useful when applied to other power tools, especially the router or jigsaw, but these often require additional plates that are sold separately.
What Fastening Method is Best?
While this may, at first, seem like a question relating to the actual function of the different fastening methods, it is actually better understood as a comparison between the different levels of craftsmen. This is because both methods of circular saw guard rail fastening can work in equal measure, but it is the use of the product and tool that will determine which is superior for you. To answer it in a straightforward manner, the lock and clamp fastening is better suited for beginners, while the anti-slip or friction fastening is likely better for experienced users.
Oddly enough, the reason for this discrepancy has more to do with how the user employs their circular saw than how they use the guard rail. Specifically, the anti-slip circular saw guard rail is much easier and quicker to use, which might make you think it is best reserved for beginners. However, this method of fastening relies on the user to maintain constant pressure while making their cut. Conversely, the lock and clamp method of fastening a circular saw guard rail does not require such attention to detail in your cutting technique, but it is more time-consuming to change from workpiece to workpiece.
What Else to Look For?
While the fastening method will often reflect the quality of the user, there are other features which do directly reflect the quality of the circular saw guard rail in question. Easily the most relevant of these is the saw plate in general, and its material in specific. Basically, most circular saw guard rails use a track made of aluminum that will not bend or flex. However, most of the circular saw guard rails also either come with a saw plate made of plastic or sell one optionally. While the saw plate can add further stability to your cut, it is important to remember that this feature should be considered more as a helping hand and less as a true guide. This is because the plastic will almost always flex a bit under the pressure of your body weight combined with the weight of the saw itself.
In the circular saw guard rail market, there really is no product that stands out head and shoulders above the rest. Instead, you will have to figure out which flaws you are comfortable with and which features you need most. The Kreg KMA2700 is a great option for those who want everything in one tidy package but does use a plastic plate. The Bora WTX is not only the least expensive option on our list, but it also uses the WTX lock and backside clamp. The Kreg KMA2685 is the only sliding circular saw guide rail on our list but is also the easiest to use. The Makita would take the top spot on our list, but it has a very narrow range of usable tools for it. Finally, the Bora WTX 100” is pretty much the same as the first but with a length over 9’ and a larger price tag.